What a year this has been! With 2008 drawing to a close, “Top 10” or “Best of 2008” lists are the way to go. ’08 bought about many changes to the online world, but without being to broad and I’d like to share 5 things I thought contributed to change in the face of Search.
#4. The iPhone & Blackberry
Why: Local SEO, Location-Aware Search, Geo-Targetted PPC Ads & Mobile Web Sites.
2008 was the year for the smart phone. While numerous manufacturers rolled out new models, it was Apple’s iPhone 3G and the Blackberry that took the spotlight. Apple’s iPhone claimed over 17% of the smart phone market in Q3 and Blackberry continued to roll out newer and faster models such as the Storm and Pearl Flip. What these devices highlighted was the emergence and public adoption of mobile web browsing. Mobile browsing was no longer for just for the businessperson, but for the average Joe the Plumber. Location-aware search also took center-stage with applications like UrbanSpoon, Around Me, and Google Maps (with the iPhone’s GPS). How exactly did this effect search? It further showed the importance of optimizing for local SEO terms and mobile friendly web sites. As CNet reported, Google is starting to display Sponsored Ads on the iPhone. In 2009, we’ll mostly see the rising importance of geo-targetting ads for mobile platforms.
#3. Google Search Suggest & Yahoo Search Suggest
Why: Long Tail Keywords
Ok, this one is sort of cheating because Yahoo! Search Suggest has been around since 2007, but it was only until this year that Google moved its Search Suggest feature from Google Labs to Google.com. Search Suggest has influenced not just how people search for longer tail keywords, but also advertising opportunities. SearchEngineLand reports Google is beginning to test out integrated PPC Ads in Search Suggest. In 2009, we’ll most likely see web sites further optimizing for suggested long tail terms.
Why: Social Media
Social Media just got serious. The President Elect’s new-media campaign was one for the record books. The press buzzed about how Obama’s camp was able to raise over $600 million from 3 million people, how he utilized Facebook, his massive text messaging campaign and the My.BarackObama.com community. Most importantly, what Obama and Chris Hughes (his leading New Media Staffer) did was change the perception of Social Media. By utilizing everything from YouTube, to Myspace, Flickr & Twitter, his team showed the importance and power of social media. While only 15% of Fortune 500 companies communicate with consumers via blogs, we’ll probably see these numbers explode as more companies jump into the social media game in 2009.
#1. The Recession
Why: Competition, Traffic Volume, Conversion Rates, Ad Spend
The recession changed search on two fronts: for businesses and for customers. For businesses, many turned to online advertising as a less expensive and more trackable means of advertising (when compared to traditional media). Directly, this increased the amount of online competition and from a paid search perspective showed the importance of quality score, ad history and a properly managed PPC campaign. For organic traffic, it seemed that search engine optimization (SEO) and landing page optimization merged closer together, as good user experience and high conversions were equally desired as high rankings.
Where will the economy will bring search in 2009?